Atlanta wasn’t dubbed “the city in a forest” for nothing—the city's tree coverage (a whopping 36 percent, compared to the national average of 27 percent) is the highest of all major American cities. Home to dozens of parks and gardens, miles of trails and an abundance of nature preserves and green amenities from playgrounds to sports fields, dog parks to public art, Atlanta is best explored outdoors.
There’s truly something for every personality, whether you prefer to window shop, bird watch, exercise outdoors or spend time with the whole family. In fact, we’ve called in outdoor enthusiast Becky Katz, visioning and grants project manager for Park Pride (a 25-year-old parks and green space organization that supports improved and increased parks in Atlanta), to help us create a green weekend, no matter what your inclination may be. Take a look:
- Urban Exploring: “If you are looking to people watch after window shopping or eating out, I highly recommend the Atlanta BeltLine’s East Side Trail and Historic Fourth Ward Park. Here you will see city dwellers walking home from the grocery store, socializing bikers and the real diversity of Atlanta.”
- Green Escape: “If you want to escape the concrete and experience the great outdoors, without leaving the city, I recommend Lionel Hampton, Constitution Lakes and Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. All these natural spaces boast walking trails, a diverse bird population and a canopy of champion trees.”
- Exercise: “Washington Park and Piedmont Park both offer a diversity of free exercise amenities. Piedmont Park’s active oval has two volleyball courts, a soft surface track, exercise equipment and historic staircases to build your calves. Washington Park has a tennis center, sports fields, exercise equipment and an indoor swimming pool.”
- Playground: “Atlanta has an amazing selection of different types of playgrounds. Springvale Park’s playground tucked in Inman Park is picturesque. Piedmont Park’s Ngochi’s playground is a work of art literally. The Atlanta Parks system has five splash pads for the warm summer days (Historic Fourth Ward Park, Center Hill, Piedmont Park, Perkerson Park and Reverend James Orange Park), and The Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park is great for older children and teenagers.”
Clearly, Katz is no stranger to Atlanta’s green space. Some of her other favorites include:
- Katz’ Park Picks: Woodruff Park, Adair Park, John Howell Park, Vine City Park, Esther Peachy Lefevre and Little Nancy Creek Park. And, of course, Chastain Park and “Oakland Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the city, a public park, where you can take a walk for both fresh air and history.”
- Katz’ Trail Picks: “You can’t talk about connectivity without talking about the Atlanta BeltLine, which will eventually be 22 miles of walking trails, parks and transit that loops around the inner core of Atlanta, connecting over 45 neighborhoods.” Katz also recommends Freedom Park PATH Trail, the brand new PATH400 Trail in Buckhead and Olmstead Linear Parks. “All these are within the City of Atlanta limits and can be experienced on foot or by bike.”
Story by Kate Parham Kordsmeier, the Atlanta expert for About Travel and author of Atlanta Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Big Peach. Kate can be reached on twitter @KPKords or via email at email@example.com. Don't forget to like us on Facebook.